Beam me up Mr President

Firstly, I’d like to declare that I am not on the payroll of a company called Suitable Technologies. I am not their brand ambassador nor do I benefit from a highly desirable sponsorship deal.

But I’ve just test driven one of their products in San Francisco from our office in West Perth, using only the arrow keys on my keyboard. The experience massively impressed me, but also scared me a little. The product was a BeamPro, or a Telepresence Robot as it’s more correctly called. I first saw BeamPro in action on a recent visit to Silicon Valley, but actually using it myself, impressed me even more.

If you’re still none the wiser as to what I’m going on about, simply put, it’s a webcam on steroids. An LCD screen on legs, that you control from anywhere with the appropriate bandwidth that allows you to be in two places at once.

So what, you may think. Well, I reckon it’s the way of the future. We all use Skype or other video conferencing technology, both professionally and outside work. But this technology is different. You can not only be somewhere you aren’t, you can also be mobile at the same time and be in control of your movements. You control the unit so you can talk to people face to face and on their level, you can also follow them around or show them around your office or home, without actually being there. You can even do a little dance if you want to.

You might think it’s a bit gimmicky, but in a world of increased automation and outsourcing it could easily replace a number of jobs. In a years’ time, rather than a people greeter at Target being physically present, there could be a BeamPro operated out of a call centre overseas. Working late? Don’t worry you can still be at the family dinner or the kids’ sports carnival, well not physically, but through a BeamPro!

You may laugh or be appalled, but it will happen. Jokes aside, think of the endless possibilities for all kinds of businesses. Helping health professionals treating patients in remote areas, being able to monitor a manufacturing business overseas or for helping people with disabilities. This was demonstrated recently by a lady called Alice Wong, who is the founder of an organisation called Disability Visibility in the USA, when she ‘visited’ President Obama at the Whitehouse.


If it’s good enough for The President, then it’s good enough for all of of us. Watch out for a Telepresence Robot at your local shopping centre very soon.

Obama and Beam Pro image courtesy of:
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